Dr. Connolly
Sleepwalking is very common in children. Most children who sleepwalk do it only occasionally and tend to outgrow it by the time they are teenagers. Dr. Alvarado, can you tell us more about sleepwalking?

Dr. Alvarado
Certainly, Dr. Connolly. Despite the name, sleepwalking can actually involve more than just walking during sleep. Sleepwalking events can involve harmless behaviors, such as sitting up in bed and talking during sleep, but they can also include dangerous activities, such as going down steps or wandering outside the house. Some children who sleepwalk may even do unusual things in their sleep, such as opening a closet door and urinating inside or opening cabinets and eating.

Sleepwalking episodes tend to happen within an hour or two of falling asleep, and an episode can last anywhere from a few seconds to 30 minutes. Most children won't remember anything at all from a sleepwalking episode, even if their eyes are open during the episode.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to sleepwalking, including:

  • Lack of sleep or fatigue
  • Irregular sleep schedules
  • Illness or fever
  • Some medicines, and
  • Stress

Although sleepwalking isn't harmful itself, it can put a child in dangerous situations. If your child sleepwalks, lock windows and doors throughout the house to keep them from wandering outside. It's also a good idea to use gates to prevent them from falling down stairs. Avoid high mattresses and bunkbeds, and remove sharp or breakable things from around their bed. Keep other dangerous objects locked up or out of reach, and remove obstacles and clutter from the floor to prevent stumbling.